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In addition to insulin, those with type 1 diabetes do not produce the protein SOGA, which at its core lowers the body's production of blood glucose, according to Terry Combs of Combs Lab in Chapel Hill.
Combs, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a team of researchers discovered the SOGA protein in 2010.
In those without diabetes, the team found, SOGA is released at the same time as insulin, and blocks the production of glucose at mealtime. Because those with type 1 do not produce SOGA, at mealtime, blood glucose levels soar.
"The body is really overproducing the amount of glucose it needs," Combs said in an interview that appeared on the Diabetes Care website. "The body of a type 1 or type 2 person with diabetes overproduces glucose to different degrees. So the reason blood sugar goes so high after a meal is that you're getting a double infusion of blood sugar, one from your own body's production and one coming from the food in your GI tract."
In his lab, Combs is working on producing a pill that would recreate the effects of SOGA, and prevent the body from overproducing glucose, with the potential of eliminating the need for insulin entirely, or at least reduce the amount required to maintain steady blood glucose levels.
Combs is currently exploring the use of the synthetic SOGA on mice, and expects to begin human studies within two to three years, contingent on available funding. The lab is set to launch a campaign to raise a needed $2.5 million for the research.
"We will figure it out as we go along," he said. "You could take it without measuring your blood sugar because it wouldn't cause low blood sugar. There might end up being a fast-acting version and a slow-acting one."
For more information, visit www.combslab.com.
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